Wahbi Khazri impresses but draw not good enough for relegation-bound Sunderland
Sunderland remain clear favourites for relegation despite a gritty comeback to draw 2-2 after twice going behind to West Ham on Saturday.
A wonderful goal direct from a Wahbi Khazri corner ended a seven-game goal drought for David Moyes' side, and substitute Fabio Borini rescued the point with a 90th minute strike from the edge of the penalty area.
But Didier Ndong had earlier missed a glorious chance, blazing his shot over the bar after fine work by Khazri, Sunderland's star man.
The dismissal in added time of West Ham defender Sam Byram for a second bookable offence came too late to enable the home side to make the numerical advantage count.
With a nine-point gap between Sunderland and fourth-bottom Hull City, only an extraordinary -- and frankly improbable -- sequence of results in their remaining six games would make survival even remotely possible.
Since those games include visits to Arsenal and Chelsea, the odds are heavily stacked against Moyes emulating the great escapes of his four predecessors, Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce.
Sunderland offered plenty of fight and desire, which has not always been the case in a terrible season. They deserved the draw and might easily have snatched a win.
All the usual defensive failings were glaringly evident as dreadful marking allowed West Ham to score early in each half. And referee Andre Marriner, never a favourite among Sunderland fans, arguably got several big decisions badly wrong.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- The manager was barracked by disgruntled supporters and can be faulted for playing Victor Anichebe wide instead of using him to rattle the West Ham defence alongside Jermain Defoe. Finally gave a start to Khazri, whose purposeful performance deepened the mystery of his previous absences from such a poor team.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 6 -- Beaten twice but had relatively little to do and generally commanded his area well, distributing with confidence.
DF Billy Jones, 6 -- Played with terrific heart, though also his usual defensive frailties. Desperately unlucky to be stretchered off after hitting the ground with his head following a bad but unpunished challenge by Arthur Masuaku, though Moyes said after the match the injury was not as bad as it seemed.
DF John O'Shea, 6 -- A mostly assured return after absence due to his father's death but shared responsibility for the wretched marking that gifted West Ham both goals.
DF Jason Denayer, 6 -- Showed composure on the ball and frequently passed well but, like O'Shea, was also among the defensive culprits.
DF Javier Manquillo, 6 -- Covered well for the injured Bryan Oviedo without producing as much threat as was needed from the wing.
MF Didier Ndong, 5 -- A game to be remembered less for some decent touches than a horrendous miss when set up by Khazri.
MF Darron Gibson, 7 -- Much better than in most appearances, with some excellent probing forward passing.
MF Lee Cattermole, 6 -- A slightly harsh booking with less than a minute played robbed Sunderland of his combative qualities. He was then clattered twice without Marriner taking similar action against the offending West Ham players.
MF Wahbi Khazri, 8 -- Brought the bustle, energy and flair that Sunderland have lacked for most of the season. Khazri is a crowd-pleaser, and his curling corner that crept in off the far post was a joy to watch.
MF Victor Anichebe, 7 -- Intermittently dangerous out wide, tracked back superbly and -- once circumstances prompted Moyes to move him up alongside Defoe -- worried the West Ham defence enough to produce the game-saving second goal.
FW Jermain Defoe, 6 -- Did almost all that could be asked of him in terms of effort and intent, and ought to have had a first-half penalty, but never really looked liked adding to his 14-goal tally.
MF Fabio Borini, N/R -- Took his goal well with a strong shot from the edge of the penalty area after Anichebe's pressure caused havoc in the Hammers defence.
MF Adnan Januzaj, N/R -- Added nothing of note to the closing stages of the game.
DF Lamine Kone, N/R -- Slotted comfortably into a rearranged defence after Jones' injury.
Colin is ESPN FC's Sunderland blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @salutsunderland